Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Ephemeral moments, meeting Baryshnikov

In January 2004 Mikhail Baryshnikov came to Holyoke, MA to perform a series of solos. Having been a ballet dancer and long time admirer of this marvelous embodiment of playful male, trickster-like, energy, I grabbed this opportunity to see him 'live', meet, and perhaps dance with him as there was to be a pre-performance party. I got tickets for my young daughter, a creative mover, budding Lindy Hopper, and who was studying ballet once again as a young teen. I also wished to inspire her (and myself) with the possibilities of movement and expression well into middle age, and share a hoped for spectacular performance. Both of us were confident on the social dance floor and willing to engage with this star.

Well as things manifested, Baryshnikov showed up very late to the party, flying in from Paris and the shooting of the final episode he appeared in for Sex in the City. He was exhausted, did not come out on the dance floor, and only a few were allowed to meet him and get his autographs. The next night after a mixed performance of mostly post-modern choreography, with some very fine subtle gestural and dramatic moments but not as much energy or movement as a younger Sasha would have been capable of, there was an opportunity to meet him backstage.

As a 50 year old former dancer, with a Russian heritage, I felt compelled to connect if I could. Pushing aside the awkwardness of being a 'fan' and waiting on line - we managed to meet the 'man' just before he retired for the evening. A freelance photographer Dan Overton was there alongside us and looking for a photo-op for his assignment for the Holyoke Sun. He shot Baryshnikov with my daughter, after signing my old pointe shoes, and then managed a shot with me and Baryshnikov (who by now was being generous as it was obvious he was spent). Unfortunately some other woman jumped into this moment of 'mine'.

Dan promised us photos, whether printed or not. However after giving a release for Mariel's photo to be used, and my address,I never did receive any prints or get to see the published article.

Our special moment which we worked at to create, began to fade into only our memories, though periodically for years I tried to trace and access a photo or copy. First I contacted the then editor of the Sun, Hope, who provided contact info for Dan, but Dan never replied.

This fall- once more, with contact information from the small paper now online, I recontacted the editor. Perhaps the issues were now archived?

This was my response-

"I'm sorry to inform you that there is no information on a Dan Overton here. I am the new editor and have been here for one year and never have heard of him. I wouldn't have any way of contacting him any better than you. As far as archives, we don't keep bound books any longer, and we don't keep loose papers from that far back. We certainly don' t have anything on disk because our main office was flooded around then. I'm really sorry I can't help, it's just too long ago. Also, if Mr. Overton was a freelancer, which I'm assuming he was because The SUN has no full-time staff, we wouldn't have the rights to give away his photo anyhow.

Aimee H"

I guess- the paper and print trail is not meant to be followed, floods and all. If 5 years ago is too long to trace, how in the world do folks trace back 100s of years? Persistance and luck. I feel for historians and those tracing roots and family.

I guess our moments with Mikhail are just to remain in our minds, and any of those that witnessed. I doubt he has much memory of it, or that it had any meaning for him. We were just more passing (and pressing) fans on his continuum.

Letting it go into the continuum of time and memory.

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